Fact: The best way to survive winter is with a warm beverage in hand at all times. But throwing a tea bag into a mug of boiling water or filling up a thermos with coffee doesn't always cut it on the most biting cold days. Luckily, we have the slow cooker in these cases.
Using the slow cooker to make warm drinks is nothing new — mulled wine is a great contender, as is spiced cider – but there's a handful of other great drinks you can make in your slow cooker that are equally as comforting. Here are five new ones to try.
1. Ginger-Honey-Lemon Tonic
Whether you feel a cold coming on or are completely run over with the flu, a simple tonic of hot water, fresh ginger, honey, and lemon can save you. It keeps you warm while soothing your throat, head, and stomach.
But in these cases, the last place you should be is leaned over the stove, heating up the mixture. Instead, toss all of the ingredients in your slow cooker, tripling or quadrupling them so you make a big batch, and cook on low for a couple hours until everything is heated through and fragrant. Then sip mugfuls throughout the day while you rest in bed.
Get the Recipe: Flu Season Ginger Honey Lemon Tonic
2. Hot Toddy
Consider yourself warned: You may never get your dinner party guests to leave if you whip up some hot toddies in the slow cooker. This cozy spiked drink is a welcome change from other hot cocktails, and also happens to be ridiculously simple.
Pour all of the ingredients in, again multiplying the ingredients to serve however many guests you'll be having, and simmer it on low for a few hours so they'll walk into your house smelling its spicy, sweet aroma. Don't let the drinks simmer too long without tasting — as the liquid evaporates, the flavors of alcohol can become overbearing. Adjust the flavors as needed. Although, to be sure, eager guests are likely to make their way through the contents without this ever having the chance of becoming a problem.
Get the Recipe: Rye and Ginger Hot Toddy
3. Hot Chocolate
Get this one going while the kids are out playing in the snow. By the time they are completely worn out and back in the house searching for something to warm up with, you'll have a big batch of hot chocolate ready for them to sip on. It's a win-win for all parties involved.
Get the Recipe: Coconut S'mores Hot Chocolate
4. Chai Tea
A creamy cup of chai is both instantly comforting and transporting at the same time — it's often just the thing you need to revive you come that mid-afternoon slump.
To make it, multiply the recipe as needed, wrapping your spices in cheesecloth and placing the tea leaves in a mesh strainer. Put both — along with the water and sweetener — in the slow cooker, and let it simmer on low for a few hours. Then just remove the spices and tea and add the milk. If you're not planning to serve the whole batch at once, ladle what you need into mugs and add the milk directly to the mugs instead.
Get the Recipe: Masala Chai Tea
5. Hot Buttered Rum
Another adult-friendly crowd-pleaser, hot buttered rum is so rich and decadent it can easily take the place of dessert after a wintery meal. Brown the butter separately in a saucepan, and then add it to the slow cooker, along with the rest of the ingredients. Let it simmer on low while you go about the rest of the evening, and it will be waiting for you when you're ready for your nightcap.
Get the Recipe: Hot Brown-Buttered Rum Cocktail